There is always a lot of discussion on here about HIPAA and who is allowed to give and receive information regarding their loved one. I found this and I think it will be helpful to read.

The Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law intended to protect private medical information from unauthorized users, such as employers and marketers. It also requires health care providers to keep this information in a safe and secure place.

Many aspects of the law are complex, and it was introduced with training that emphasized penalties for failing to comply. But one thing is very clear. Unless the patient objects, the law does not prevent health care providers from sharing a patient's private medical information with family, relatives, friends or others the patient may identify as long as they are involved with his or her health care or responsible for health care bills.

In fact, good clinical practice requires sharing information with all the people involved in the patient's care. Without a clear understanding of the patient's condition, prognosis, and treatment plan, family caregivers cannot maintain a high quality of care at home or the next care setting. The law does not interfere with appropriate treatment and planning. It also does not define who counts as family, so that partners and friends may be as involved in a patient's care as any spouse or kin.

HIPAA does not require a written release for you to share information with family caregivers. However, your institution may have gone beyond HIPAA's requirements and established such a policy. If so, you should speak with your privacy officer about the ways in which this policy limits communication and good patient care.

The Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights gives special guidance on mental health and HIPAA. It reaffirms the patient's control of personal health information but recognizes circumstances in which sharing the information may be permissible without the patient's consent "if the provider has a good faith belief that the patient poses a threat to the health or safety of the patient or others, and the family member is reasonably able to prevent or lessen that threat." The guidance also states that even if the patient doesn't consent, "HIPAA in no way prevents health care providers from listening to family members or other caregivers who may have concerns about the health and well-being of the patients, so the health care provider can factor that information into the patient's care."

If a problem arises, you should speak with your facility's privacy officer.

For more information about HIPAA:
DHHS Office for Civil Rights:
Health Privacy Project:

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It's because of the threat of fines (and who wants to pay a fine) that doctor's offices, etal, make you sign a form. That is like the sign in sheet where they cover all the other names. Who cares who signed in above you? Some have gotten so paranoid about the whole thing.

Bookluver, that just sounds criminal. And while I'm not normally a litigious person, I hope that family sues the heck out of the ER. AND I hope they win.

Book, the man in the fight, was he under police watch ot something so rules change? How awful for the families.

Here on island, when checking in for your medical or dental appointment, they automatically give you a HIPAA leaflet. Along with that is a form authorizing who they can release your medical information. For years, I never put a name. Now, when I sign the form, I put my sister's name, relationship to me and her contact number.

A man was dropped off at the dialysis clinic. His health turned for the worse and an ambulance was called. He asked the clinic to please call his wife. They refused. At the ER, he asked them to please call his wife. They refused. He said then to give him a phone or mobile phone, and he will call his wife. They refused. He spent the whole day in the ER.

A man was dying in the ER from serious injuries from a fight. This is a small island, word gets around. His family heard about him from the grapevine, and went to the ER. The hospital refused to give them any information. Not even if he was there or not. Hours went by as they tried to find information from the ER. Only after their son died, were they finally told. The family was so angry that their son was alone all those hours and died by himself, alone.

After hearing about the man with dialysis in which the medical community refuse to call his wife, I now make it a point to put my sister's name.

Thank you for posting this. I think so many doctors have become overly cautious is sharing of information with those without a POA. And then naturally, there are those with POA that are simply power mongers and want control and the best way to do that is to limit information shared with other family members.

Also, consider this my part of pushing spam down the list.

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